Whilst exploring Italy for the first time ever, I learned that you can get a cappuccino almost anywhere for just over 1 euro, talking with your hands is as necessary as breathing, and that it’s completely acceptable to eat pizza and or pasta everyday. The one thing I didn’t learn is Italian- which is why I titled this post with pretty much the only phrase I managed to learn for the entire 9 days I spent there.
Before my travels, I made sure to watch the movie Eat Pray Love so that I’d be totally prepared; but unfortunately, Julia Roberts did not equip me to the extent I feel may have been necessary. Being me, it’s not often that I feel a sense of urgency or any sort of stress. Sometimes this is a good thing and other times it gets me in trouble. I guess Italy recognized this as an apparent fault in me, and decided to slap me in the face with a heavy garlic-flavored brick as a welcome gift. Don’t get me wrong- I had a wonderful time! I ate gelato almost every day, met some great people who I made great memories with, went to some of the most famous art museums in the world and walked on streets and through squares that poems and songs are written about. I felt like I was in a movie. But that being said, every movie has at least one low scene or two, and my low came out of my lack of urgency. Despite my over-chill (like over-kill but worse), I’m usually quite organized, but this time around I forgot my camera (which was left on my coffee table), I also failed to pay attention to the details of my bus trip (which I missed) and lastly, I failed to keep track of my phone (which I lost). Due to the unfortunate event of forgetting my camera but even further, misplacing my phone, you all get to see a limited amount of pictures from Milan, and no pictures from Rome. I endured the worst possible fate a Millennial could ever experience but it’s all good because now I have an excuse to go back… although I guess I don’t need any other excuse than, “…because it’s a beautiful country and 9 days was no where near enough time…”.
Most of my time spent in both Milan and Rome was walking. Italy doesn’t really prioritize public transportation but this is a blessing in disguise for obvious reasons. Italy is a colorful, exuberant, proud country and you see that in the architecture, food, and language. It’s such a dream strolling down the many cobble-stone streets, staring in awe at how much detail is in that random apartment building, eaves-dropping on the ladies walking in front of you who are speaking Italian even though you don’t understand a word, drooling once the smell coming from that pizzeria hits your nose, and then drooling over the cute Italian guy that just walked by (I’m half kidding). It’s in the moments that you have no plans and no where to be that you really take in all the beauty around you. Hailing from America where rushing from one place to another and doing 4 things at once is the norm, I’ve been trying to adapt to the European way of life where people sit and talk at a cafe for hours on end without thinking about what they’re doing next. The Italians “stop and smell the roses” like it’s their job.
My favorite thing about the European lifestyle is how different each culture in each country is, yet there’s one core value they all seem to share: enjoying the little things in life. Every Italian I met spent a decent amount of time doing the things they love, and if not that, talking about the things they love. Whether it be the wine or their mother, they’re always voicing their appreciation. I loved many things in Italy, but overall, I loved the passion that I saw in everything and everyone.
I managed to post a couple pictures of Rome on my Instagram before I lost my phone. Go check them out! @abbyschiewe
On next post the pictures won’t be from a phone, and soon I’ll have my own independent URL so stay tuned. Thanks for reading!
[FOR LOGISTICS, READ THIS PARAGRAPH- OTHERWISE SKIP IT]
I highly recommend Couch Surfing. If you don’t know anyone that lives wherever it is you’re going, it’s such a fun way to meet people! I’m not a fan of touristy things. Sure, there can be a place for them but as for my overall experience, I want to live like a local. I was blessed to have two amazing hosts who I became friends with and also made friends through them. It’s so fun to come back after a long day of exploration to a familiar face instead of a hotel employee. The Couch Surfing experience varies but regardless I think you learn so much and get a more authentic stay this way. As I mentioned, Italy is not big on public transportation. Milan is okay but not great. They have 24 hour metro tickets available but make sure you check what stops you’re going to because you may not even use the ticket very much, you can also just get a couple of the one-way tickets. Milan is small but full of stuff to do! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Get a car. If you get a bike you probably won’t leave the country with all 4 limbs and if you opt for walking (I did) it’s fine but be prepared to walk a long time, unless of course you’re staying in the city center. Rome is quite big so keep that in mind when navigating. If you’re staying several days I was told that it’s smartest to rent a car. You’ll be thankful you did! In both Milan and Rome I discovered something life-changing called aperitivo. Friends meet up for aperitivo at any bar/restaurant (most of them participate) and pay 8 to 12 euros for a cocktail and then help themselves to whatever they please plus some from a yummy buffet. It was delicious and cheap and another way to experience the local side of Italy instead of spending all your time at fancy touristy restaurants. And lastly, in Milan and in Rome, like anywhere else the major tourist spots (such as the Duomo, Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, etc.) will be the least busy in the early morning and late at night. If you’re wanting to get those perfect Instagram pictures you may want to go in one of those time frames.